Macaroni cheese, fish pie, bolognese, cottage pie – alongside fish fingers, scrambled eggs and so forth, these childhood staples form the benchmarks of my culinary repertoire when it comes to catering for my 2 year-old. Only problem is that they take a long time to prepare from scratch, and often the freezer runs empty before I find time to rustle up fresh stock.
And so to Kiddyum, a healthy frozen food brand aimed at young children aged 1-4, which provides nutritious, veg-packed, low salt and sugar meals – all ready-made for parents to pop in the freezer and whip into the oven at short notice.
Founded by Jayne Hynes, an ex-chartered surveyor and mum of two, the business came about after she began developing recipes and batch cooking for her daughters to save time as a working mum. Sensing that she was on to something, she went on to win a start-up business initiative with Sainsbury’s and the brand took off.
Always keen to try anything that will make life easier, I picked up Kiddyum’s ‘Cheasy Peasy Pasta’, the ‘Cottage Pie’ and a ‘Fish and Veg Pie’ to try out on my little one (on the whole, a reasonable eater) at home. Here’s how it went.
Background: Weetabix, a cheese toasty, a bit of tomato and half my chocolate croissant – it hasn’t been a great day nutrition-wise for my daughter, so I feel I need to restore the balance come tea-time. A Kiddyum cottage pie containing swede, carrots, peas and tomato will do the trick.
Cooking time: It takes 35 minutes in the oven. I fiddle about on the computer and my daughter makes “cups of tea” for me and the dog while we wait.
Look: Comes out with a nice crust on top of the mash. No juices bubbling through like a homemade version though.
Taste: Surprisingly good. It has some depth of flavour and the smooth mash and slightly chunky mince make for a pleasing texture.
Daughter’s verdict: Clean plate! This was a hit. Will definitely be buying this again.
Score overall: 8/10
Background: Long day. We’re back late and I’m feeling quite knackered. Daughter has been pretty challenging all day and there’s no time to cook anything now. Let’s try the Cheasy Peasy Macaroni.
Cooking time: Daughter’s mood needs to be urgently re-set and food is what’s needed. I don’t like using the microwave for stuff like this, but needs must. In it goes. 6 minutes later, it’s on the table.
Look: Depressing looking! Macaroni cheese definitely needs to be cooked in the oven.
Taste: Hmm. Not so keen on this. It tastes rather bland so I add some grated cheese on top and place the ketchup on stand-by.
Daughter’s verdict: Bit of a fuss-pot, though she is in that kind of mood. Takes a lot of cajoling, more cheese and some ketchup to get it all down. Probably won’t buy this one again.
Score overall: 5/10
Background: I’ve been working today – yes, a lot less tiring than looking after a naughty two-year-old while 7 and a half months pregnant. I nip downstairs before she gets back to put a Kiddyum Fish Pie in, all ready for a punctual tea-time.
Cooking time: Not making the microwave mistake again, so 35 minutes in the oven.
Look: A bit of a crust on the mash, a little juice coming up round the edges. Not too bad!
Taste: It’s not as good as a homemade version, but it is quite creamy and with a nice smooth mash. There are good chunks of sweetcorn and fish. Again, it’s a little bland for my taste, but not salty, so that’s a good thing.
Daughter’s verdict: Wolfs the first half, then starts getting a bit fussy, ie, saying “not like sweetcorn” even though she has been cheerfully chucking it down until now. After several demands for “dip-dip” I relent and bring out the ketchup and the whole plate is cleared.
Overall score: 7/10.
A ready-meal can never replace a home-cooked one in terms of depth of flavour, rustic look and love, but it does save a lot of time when one is time-pressed and/or tired at the end of a long day. Meanwhile, a clean plate (ketchup or no ketchup), the daily veg quota fulfilled, and a full tummy is always deemed a success in my book. I’ll definitely be keeping one or two of these in the freezer as back-up from now on – and the ‘Macaroni Bolognese’ and ‘Chicken Curry and Rice’ are next on my hit list.
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